Minnesota Wild @ Calgary Flames: Game 35

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Minnesota Wild (20-9-5) vs Calgary Flames (14-15-4)

Saddledome @ 8:00 PM CDT
Television: FSN
Listen Live at: KFAN (100.3) or Wild.com

For the Calgary perspective, check out Matchsticks and Gasoline

Minnesota Wild Calgary Flames

Pierre-Marc Bouchard - Matt Cullen - Dany Heatley
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Jarod Palmer - Jed Ortmeyer - Cal Clutterbuck
- Warren Peters - Brad Staubitz

Jared Spurgeon - Marco Scandella
Greg Zanon - Nick Schultz
Clayton Stoner - Marek Zidlicky
Justin Falk

Josh Harding
Niklas Backstrom

Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Lee Stempniak
Alex Tanguay - Mikael Backlund - Jarome Iginla
Paul Byron - Roman Horak - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Brendan Morrison - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Derek Smith - Scott Hannan
T.J. Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

The hatred between Minnesota and Wisconsin is renowned in the area. In the waning days of the fake rivalries with the province of Alberta, it appears the fanbases there want to get in their parting shots like Matt Cooke setting himself up for a flying elbow knowing the season is almost over. Who would have ever thought that Wild fans would prefer to interact with Wings fans than the current set of "friends?"

From the preview at our SBN sister site:

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Sporting a four-game slide of their own, the Avalanche-esque Minnesota Wild are no longer in first place in the NHL. What a crying shame.

Indeed. A four game losing streak has the Wild all the way down to... second in the West and third in league, one point out of first. Quite the fall. The 2009-10 Avs at this point were in 6th in the conference, and ninth in the league. Great comparison.

We move on.

The Wild are in a rut. A rut so very many people say they have predicted. Yet, it wasn't unsustainable goaltending that has suddenly fallen apart, or a sudden over powering by the mighty Corsi squads... no, it is a much more sinister and familiar nemesis. Injuries. But the fact that the Wild would skate without four of their top six forwards for so long was all factored in to the predictions, I'm sure.

Granted, the Wild lineup is... how did they put it?... "non-threatening." Not many foes cower in fear at the site of Jed Ortmeyer and Warren Peters. Still, a look at the other side of the coin shows a Flames lineup filled with a guy that used to be Jarome Iginla, the mummified remains of Alex Tanguay, a spry Olli Jokinen, a guy who looks like Jay Bouwmeester but only shares his ability to collect a paycheck, and the ghost of Miikka Kiprusoff. In other words, a lineup that used to be pretty threatening. Used to be.

Given all that, the Wild are still missing Mikko Koivu, Devin Setoguchi, and Guillaume Latendresse. They will skate seven defenseman, rather than suit up a struggling Colton Gillies. Josh Harding makes his first start since December 6th. The team still has to find a way to put the past four games behind them and find a way to win a game without the three big guns.

Hopefully the Flames have as much confidence that they have the Wild "right where they want them" as the fan base does. If so, they'll see this as an easy win. Because, as all hockey fans know, a team that was embarrassed the night before generally just rolls over for the next opponent. Right?

As with any other game on the schedule, this is just another game. Worth the same number of points, played the same way as all the others. It is also a chance for a team that has fallen into a "see I told you so" trap to silence the nay sayers for a night. If not, so be it. Another game in two days in Edmonton.

I think I just threw up a little.

Five Questions:

  1. Can the non-threatening line up find a way to win?
  2. Does Harding shed his rust and come up big?
  3. Will dressing seven D make any difference?
  4. Can the Wild respond as they have in the past?
  5. Any chance we escape the night without a lecture?
Enjoy the Wild's warm up songs before the game:

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